Welcome back to ASK ME ANOTHER, NPR's hour of puzzles, word games and trivia. I'm Ophira Eisenberg and with me on our stage is our very important puzzler, Michael Ian Black.
MICHAEL IAN BLACK: Hello.
EISENBERG: So Michael, we thought that before we throw you in the puzzle pit, we'd make you run a game with us. We're going to first, welcome our contestants that are going to play this game. Let's welcome Andrew Sommerfeld and Erica Pietricola.
A story, a work of art, a face, a designed object — how do we tell that something is beautiful? And why does it matter so much to us? Designer Richard Seymour explores our response to beauty and the surprising power of objects that exhibit it.
Cameron Russell admits she won "a genetic lottery": She's tall, pretty and an underwear model. But don't judge her by her looks. In this fearless talk, she takes a wry look at the industry that had her looking highly seductive at barely 16 years old.
Denis Dutton has a provocative theory on beauty — that art, music and other beautiful things, far from being simply "in the eye of the beholder," are a core part of human nature with deep evolutionary origins.
Psychologist Nancy Etcoff joins philosopher Denis Dutton to explain why beauty inspires and motivates us. Etcoff says our response to beauty is visceral, and we use strong words — like "bombshell" — when we talk about it.
Originally published on Mon December 16, 2013 1:14 pm
Beauty surrounds us, draws us in, gives joy and creates conflict. In this hour, TED speakers conjure up beauty both ancient and modern, and suggest reasons why humans are hardwired to crave and respond to beauty.
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Originally published on Fri April 19, 2013 1:38 pm
Among the semi-literate journals submitted by his high-school students, jaded French literature teacher Germain (Fabrice Luchini) is jazzed to find a rough diamond from a new pupil, Claude (Ernst Umhauer).
In weekly installments, the ingratiating but enigmatic teenager, who looks as though he just stepped out of a Pasolini movie, chronicles his efforts to insinuate himself into the family of one his classmates, an amiable but awkward underachiever named Rapha (Bastien Ughetto).
Derek (Alexander Skarsgard) and wife Cindy (Paula Patton) are sandbagged by online identity thieves who steal their credit information — even as they're still grappling with the death of their young son.
Credit LD Entertainment
In a loosely connected storyline, the relationship between an investigative journalist (Andrea Riseborough) and a young digital sex worker (Max Thieriot) grows increasingly complicated as the twisted plot of Disconnect unwinds.
The title of Disconnect may be read as describing any of several things: the gulf between online and real-world interactions; the chasm that opens between human beings when spoken communication fails; our default emotional position in the face of unthinkable tragedy.
Attempting to address all three interpretations within the confines of a single movie may be courting failure, but writer Andrew Stern and director Henry-Alex Rubin go one better, adding an unnecessary cybercrime angle that muffles the screenplay's more subtle psychological insights.
The best documentaries about filmmaking are the ones that show it at its worst.
Movie sets are fundamentally boring places, where there's mostly a lot of waiting around going on. But when disaster strikes with millions of dollars on the line, the tension and drama are suddenly amped up to levels that often equal those in the movie being filmed.
The enigmatic Julia (Olga Kurylenko) surfaces from the mysterious past of Victoria's husband, Jack (Tom Cruise), a repairman tending drones on a largely abandoned Earth.
Credit Universal Pictures
The sterile, futuristic gloss of the post-apocalyptic living spaces in Oblivion are a perfect setting for Andrea Riseborough's icy Victoria — whose humanity, showing occasionally through the odd crack in her reserve, informs some of the film's strongest moments.
The score for Oblivion was composed by M83, a superb French electronic outfit that derives its name from one of the spectral pinwheels known as spiral galaxies. I point this out because it's the best element of the movie — a cascade of dreamy synthesizers that registers as appropriately futuristic (at least the future as suggested by '80s pop) while allowing an undercurrent of romantic yearning.
Artist Jackie Sumell set out to build a dream home for bank robber Herman Wallace, whose additional conviction for killing a prison guard is the subject of a long-running dispute.
Credit First Run Features
A 3-D rendering of Wallace's dream house; Sumell's juxtaposition of the house and Wallace's 6-by-8 prison cell is a statement on the severity of solitary confinement in Louisiana's notorious state penitentiary.
The off-screen protagonist of Herman's House, Herman Wallace, already has a dwelling for his body: a 6-foot-by-8-foot cell at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, aka Angola. But the documentary's on-screen protagonist, Jackie Sumell, wants him also to have a place for his soul: a dream house for a man who desperately needs dreams.
This is the third in a three-part series aboutthe intersection of education and the arts.
Life Pieces to Masterpieces is an arts program that's not entirely about the art. It's an after-school program based in a struggling neighborhood in Washington, D.C., that teaches black boys and young men what they call "the four C's": "Connect, create, contribute, celebrate." From ages 3-25, they learn to express themselves by conceiving their paintings together. And those paintings will often reflect what's going on in their lives.
Originally published on Thu April 18, 2013 11:33 am
This week, the Tribeca Film Festival kicks off its 12th year. With a shorter history than Sundance or Cannes — the two major festivals that flank it on the calendar — Tribeca has grown in fits and starts since its 2002 launch as an effort to revitalize Lower Manhattan in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Today, Tribeca has carved out an identity as an international festival supporting both established and first-time filmmakers — and, not coincidentally, showcasing New York as a filmmaking hub.
I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Now we want to tell you about a remarkable film, one that the renowned director Ingmar Bergman called extraordinary. But it's a film that most people have never seen because, for decades, it was believed to have been lost.
Angela Davis was once on the FBI's most wanted list. But decades after her brush with the law as a political activist, she remains a hero to some, and a villain to others. Host Michel Martin talks with Shola Lynch, the director of the new documentary Free Angela and All Political Prisoners.
Whether or not you give a damn for Superman, you know who he is. Even if you've never read a comic book in your life, no one can hear the name "Superman" without a flash of recognition: red-and-yellow S on blue background, red cape, the dark-haired man in flight, jaw set, blue eyes fixed on a distant destination. He's on his way to save the world.
Two high-school sophomores — Ethan Wynkoop and Ti-Anna Chen — sneak away from their homes in suburban Washington, D.C., and fly to Hong Kong. They're searching for Ti-Anna's father, a Chinese emigre and dissident who believes that China is just a spark away from democratic revolution.
When people talk about movie magic, they rarely mean card tricks. They're talking about digital wizardry and special effects.
But a new documentary called Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay is all about card tricks — and a man who has devoted his life to them.
Card artist Ricky Jay keeps up a constant stream of chatter in his act onstage — everything from gambling poems to stories about The Great Cardini — and it's all very entertaining, but the patter is designed to distract you from what he's doing.
Originally published on Thu April 25, 2013 2:25 pm
As an artist, Caitlin Freeman found her calling in cake.
Freeman started out wanting to be an art photographer. But one day, while still in art school, she came across Display Cakes,artist Wayne Thiebaud's 1963 painting of frosted confections, during a visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The image was so arresting, it stayed with her for years, and later inspired her to set off on a completely different career path: baking.
Plenty of personal essayists, including really good ones like Nora Ephron, Anna Quindlen and E.B. White, burn out or switch to fiction after a few books. Even Michel de Montaigne, the 16th century French writer often acknowledged as the father of the genre that combines intelligent reflection with anecdotes and autobiography, produced only one volume — albeit a massive one. Yet here's David Sedaris with his eighth collection, the absurdly titled Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls: Essays, Etc.
To celebrate National Poetry Month this April, NPR Books reached into the archives for some interviews with the nation's official poets. Poets Laureate past and present have revealed their eloquence and insight in these interviews, where they discuss their inspirations, their heart-breaking memories, their confrontations with aging — and, in the case of Ted Kooser, how his wife felt about his thousands of Valentines.
There's been a major push to prevent bullying in America's schools but some are now worried in our enthusiasm to tackle this social problem, we are creating new problems. Indiana is the latest state to pass a tough anti-bullying law. It requires schools to develop prevention programs and adopt rules for disciplining bullies, among other measures.
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
We spoke to Emily Bazelon about this. Her new book on bullying is called "Sticks and Stones." Emily, thanks for joining us.
Originally published on Wed April 17, 2013 7:02 am
My in-laws live in a half-wild, magical place perched along the edge of the Northern California coastline about an hour from San Francisco. On nice days — and even when it rains — my husband and I will take their black Lab for a ramble up into the woods behind the house where banana slugs carpet the narrow trail, salamanders creep shyly through the trees alongside it, and the air is full of birdsong and the good, damp smells of the growing things.